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We Should Practice What We Preach
Decluttering,  Finances,  Frugality,  Minimalism,  Simplicity

We Should Practice What We Preach

I stopped exploring most of the minimalism, simplicity, and frugality blogs on the Internet these days. As a general rule, they fail to practice what they preach so I find them offensive.

The first thing you see when you click on one of those blog links is a giant popup. “Sign up for my mailing list and I’ll give you this piece of advertising disguised as helpful information for FREE!” When you sign up to make the popup disappear, your inbox will be flooded on a regular basis with advertising. “Join my class! Sign up for my FREE webinar so I can talk you into paying money for this class, this app, or whatever it is I’m selling!” The variety of methods that they use to persuade you that you NEED to give them money is not only impressive, it is disgusting.

When you finally manage to dispose of the popup, you are then forced to read their content, content that is disrupted by ads as you scroll down if they don’t break it up into a slideshow format designed to force you to click several times and view a bunch of more ads.

Even worse, when you get to the content, what do they do? They review different products and services with the intent of persuading you to BUY.

Seriously, you don’t need to buy MORE crap. You’ve already gotten more than enough for your needs. If you happen to be visiting those sites, chances are that you’re so broke that you can’t afford to buy them anyway.

But they do this. They don’t care how poor or broke you are. They don’t care that you’ve got far too much stuff already. All they care about is emptying your wallets a little bit more.

It’s not about helping you; it’s about enriching themselves. Check into the private lives of many of these people and you will discover that they make more money (and live at a higher standard) than a poor person can even comprehend. How can they possibly have your best interest in mind when they don’t know what it’s like to be so poor that you have to cook a pot of beans just to eat that week? How can they possibly understand the challenges that they don’t have to face because they make so much more money than you?

See, it’s easy to buy a new gadget when you’ve got the money to spare. And it makes sense to them to spend dollars just to save a few pennies because that’s how they were trained. Even if they weren’t conditioned to purchase things that won’t really save money in the long run, they have realized that if they can persuade you to buy these things that they will have more money in their bank.

And the only way to tell them apart is if you see them practice what they preach.

An excellent example of this is Marie Kondo. I refuse to link to her site in disgust for her actions. I used to like her; I found her logic as related to eliminating items that didn’t “spark joy” to be refreshing.

Until she showed her true colors, that is.

I wasn’t bothered by the fact that she started a show about her particular brand of minimalism. I was grateful for that because it helped to spread the word that people as a whole need to thin out their stuff. I was glad that she managed to find a way to do that and make a bit of money in the process.

But then, after she preached and preached about the need to thin down and eliminate, what did she do? She released a whole line of stuff that she wanted you to BUY.

REALLY?

How does that even make sense? If you needed to buy something, you sure as hell wouldn’t be tossing your perfectly serviceable stuff away, now would you? How can you speak out of one side of your mouth to tell people to throw their shit away then open the other side and tell them to BUY?

It is hypocisy in the strictest sense, spurred entirely by greed. She doesn’t give a shit about you; all she cares about is filling her bank account. She doesn’t care that you’re poor and broke and overwhelmed; just toss out your shit, buy her crap, and suffer through the overdraft fees when you discover that the shit you’ve kept has worn out before you’ve managed to save up enough money to replace it.

Why do you think that I’ve refused to offer classes? Why do you think that I’ve refused to create a mailing list? Why do you think that I’ve patently refused the offers I’ve received to market tee-shirts and other items to you? Why do you think that I live in the Hood and dine on Ramen instead of filling this website with ads?

I do it because I actually practice what I preach. I do it because this is about more than filling my bank account. I do this because I’ve seen a problem with this world and with the ways we’ve been taught and I want to fix it, even if I have to starve in the process.

While I’m not starving (don’t worry), I have deliberately made choices not to market to you because I believe that you’ve been marketed to enough. I have deliberately made choices that have affected me financially because I believe in what I tell you and I live my life based upon those beliefs every single day.

It enrages me that there are bloggers and writers and so-called frugality experts preaching to you that you need to toss the shit you already have and buy their shit instead. And there is only one way to stop that. It’s the exact same way you can remove the power and control of the corporations who have taken over our nation.

Stop paying attention to them. Stop buying their stuff. Stop paying for their classes. Stop encouraging them to market to you and they’ll eventually go broke and be forced to quit.

When that happens, the ones who will be left standing are the ones who truly practice what they preach in regards to simplicity, minimalism, and frugality because they’ll be the only ones with the skills to know how to live on less. They will be the ones who will do the work for free, not because they don’t need money to live on (we all need that), but because they feel that the message is more important than profit.

Those are the people you want to support, because those are the people who truly want to help you.

So think twice before you stick your email into their popups. Think twice before you buy their classes, click on their ads, or buy stuff from their product lines. Because to them, you are nothing more than an income stream.

For the record, you can find some of my ebooks listed for free on the torrent sites. If you’re broke, feel free to download them. I know that they’re there, because I’m the one who uploaded some. I’ve given out scores of my books for free to readers who emailed me and shared that they wanted to buy my books but didn’t have the money.

I do this because this is about more than the money to me. This is about the fact that people are poor and broke and struggling and they don’t know where to turn. This is about the fact that I’ve struggled my whole entire life, and I don’t want to see other people facing that fate.

I want to make this world a bit better place.

I can’t predict the future. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford to do what I do without acquiring a job for the long term. And that’s okay. That’s okay because this is about more than me. This is about helping you realize that society is broken, and the only way to fix it is to stop feeding the monsters.

It’s time for me to stop ranting for now. I’ve a house to clean and a book to write. If I can be of service to you don’t hesitate to email or comment. If you find my posts helpful, please know that even the shortest comment helps increase my ranking on the search engines. Sharing my posts with your friends helps to get the word out as well.

Please help me do that. Thank you.


It is hypocritical to run a website about buying and living on less while begging your readers to buy your crap so I refuse to do it. That said, I live on the money I receive from book sales, so if you can find it in your heart to pitch in I would be immensely grateful.

I’ve written a lot of books sharing my odd view of life in hopes of helping others. My most notorious book is titled The Shoestring Girl: How I Live on Practically Nothing and You Can Too, but The Minimalist Cleaning Method is pretty popular as well. You can find them at the following places:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Apple iBooks
Smashwords (non-DRM)

Thank you for your support!

28 Comments

  • Linda Sand

    I buy your books but no one else’s because I believe in you. I have been poor but now that I am no longer I remember what it was like. I remember Mom’s friend buying her enough food on dates that she would have some left to feed us kids. Even now I choose my meals in ways to make more than one meal from them. And all my clothes fit in a 2-foot wide closet with room to spare. And our furniture came from IKEA not an upscale furniture store. Now I can afford more but why would I want that? I’d rather invest our money so we can be sure not to run out of it before we die. And to support a few people like you who get it. Thanks for being you.

  • Essie

    I totally agree with your observation of hypocrisy within the ranks of those advocating minimalism, simplicity and frugality. I, too, am disgusted by it. Yours is pretty much the only blog I read because of your honesty and sincerity. Yours is truly a work of love. I often think about returning to blogging but I know it is a lot of hard work for which there is no pay. Right now, I don’t have the time to devote to it. Like you, I have no desire to ask for money from others or sell products and information to those who are like us- trying to make it day to day on little money. Perhaps you could put hyperlinked images of your books in a side bar. That might increase sales. I think book sales are the way to go. I am waiting for that next one, Annie!

    • Annie

      I’ve thought about that, Essie. The problem with that is a practical one. Most people read websites on their phones and other mobile devices. The themes I’ve looked at get rather ugly on those mobile formats when they include a sidebar.

      That said, I am wondering if it would be hypocritical to craft a piece of HTML to stick on the bottom of each post, just a little thing with images of my books that people can click on to buy if they are interested. I don’t trust the plugins for that, since my site was hacked via the plugins a few years back, but it wouldn’t be hard at all to just stick the html in each post.

      Does that sound like it might work?

          • Essie

            Annie, when I first pictured it, I was thinking more of images of the book covers linked to a buying page. But, wow, you have a lot of books! I like the way you did it with links to pages with all of your books. Tastefully done- not in your face advertising. I remember reading a post you wrote about the slavery of minimalism. I really enjoyed that post. I didn’t know you expanded it into a book. I need to buy that one to add to my collection! Thanks.

          • Annie

            I’m glad you like it, Essie! I worked on it for several hours last night, worried that it would be overdone. I am thankful that it wasn’t.

          • Essie

            Seriously? I went to Smashwords (I refuse to buy anything from Amazon) to buy your book The Slavery of Extreme Minimalism and other Minimalist Musings and I see it is FREE. Seriously? Annie, you need to charge something! Where can I send $2.99 to so you get it? Do you use Venmo?

          • Annie

            I don’t even know what Venmo is. I think you can send me something through PayPal, if you happen to have an account there. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. As I said, this is about more than the money to me.

            Thank you, Essie.

  • Fangzhou

    I recently read one of your books, and this article. I love how you do things with clear goals, and live a life where theses goals truly become center of life.

    • Annie

      Thank you, Fangzhou! I am so thankful that you came to visit. I hope I am able to help you in some small way.

  • Valerie Grice

    Right on, Annie!
    I totally agree- and have stopped reading all other minimalist blogs.Your books are wonderful,too- i re read them often-can’t wait for the newest one- please let us know when it’s finished!!

  • Ellen L Guardiano

    Annie, I admire you greatly! Long-time reader, I have purchased your books and benefited greatly from reading and applying the principles. You speak the truth, are forthright, honest and refreshing! One of the many reasons I admire you is because you have truly maximized yourself, in living your life, having risen above your humble beginnings. You’ve done the most with what you’ve had to work with! “Keep on keeping on,” as they say, Annie!

    • Annie

      Hello, Ellen! I am so thankful you stopped by! Thank you so very much for your kind words. They mean more to me than I can express.

  • Melanie

    You are walking the walk, Annie. It’s so inspiring to read your words. I’ve made January a “no-spend” month, with the exception of necessities (utilities, gas, groceries.). With the money my husband and I save by doing this in January, we want to create an experience — a memory, as opposed to buying more stuff with the savings. We are planning a day trip to a city we’ve never visited, in February. It’s a 2-hour drive. The memory of that trip will last much longer than more “stuff.” Keep up the good work!

    • Annie

      Good for you, Melanie. And thank you so much for your support. Your kind words have helped me to make a painful decision. You will understand in a moment. I’m working up the post right now.

  • John Grebe

    I think a lot of it is based on clever marketing, especially from people whose jobs and paychecks depend upon their ability to sell people more stuff. At first minimalism has been taken as a bit of a challenge of how to you respond to a movement centered around not buying as much stuff when your job depends upon being able to turn it around to sell them stuff. Personally I think that is why Marie Kondo had to be imported from Japan as a minimalist celebrity because of her approach being a way that could be used by marketers to neutralize the threat of minimalism to their business model. Although ironically Marie Kondo is not a minimalist and does not consider herself one as her message was always about surrounding oneself only with objects that spark joy and are used. If you did not know she is a former Shinto shrine maiden (might not have gotten the term right) but basically that form of Japanese spiritual philosophy views that everything including physical everyday objects as having spirits, thus the need to only have things that you love and use in your house lest you hold onto the bad energy of the neglected and not loved things so they are able to bring you down. Yes the first part of her program does involve minimalism style purging but it is followed up by being very selective on what one lets back into your lives. The problem for most Americans (and delight of American marketers) is after so many years of American style consumerism focusing on buying lots of cheap crap at bargain prices, the old style goods no longer cut it after Marie Kondo woke up the masses about the shortcomings of the cheap crap of American stye consumerism. Only thing is instead of addressing the hollow nature of consumerism this only shifted the focus from how much stuff you have, to how you feel about your stuff which for most people means less things but more carefully chosen and more expensive things. As compared to more classic minimalism which was rooted in frugality and freedom with a focus on the things in life like spirituality and relationships that matter more than having lots of stuff. I think that is what makes you stand out as you are likely the only remaining of the old guard of early advocates of the old style frugal minimalism. In fact the only other person of the same style that I can even still sort of remember was the old and now deceased guy that wrote the a book called Living Well on Practically Nothing or something alone those lines that I first read years ago. While I do not plan on downsizing my books anytime soon I would say that book is probably one of the very few that I would view as being worth the time to scan to a PDF to have it on hand for the future.

    • Annie

      John,
      Please give me a moment to digest your post before I respond. I want to think about this before I reply. I will be back shortly.

    • Annie

      Omigosh! Edward Romney is one of my favorite authors! I love that book! If you get a chance, look up Charles Long’s book “How to Survive Without a Salary.” It is a classic!

      I believe you may be right in regards to Kondo. It does seem coincidental that when the millennial generation began to embrace minimalism to the point where it began to affect entire industries that Marie Kondo appeared on the scene. If I recall correctly, I started seeing her right around that time–and right around that time I noticed that attention to the “old guard” began to wane.

      It’s hard to think of myself as the “old guard” in relation to minimalism. I flipped and flopped around for a few years as I searched around to see what would make us (well, me personally) happier overall. I became frustrated with the fact that minimalism became a pissing contest. That cry of “the one with the least stuff wins” began to turn my stomach, especially when combined with the encouragement to buy items that were well out of the price range of average people.

      Do you actually believe I could call myself a minimalist? I don’t exactly live out of a backpack, you know.

      • John Grebe

        Of course you can call yourself a minimalist. It was when minimalism became a pissing context of who could own the most that the classic frugal minimalism gave way to a more expensive form of minimalism by outsourcing everything. Hence if you outsource your food preparation you don’t have to own a kitchen and the stuff that comes with one mentality and calling anybody who has too much stuff to fit into a single bag a hoarder. That was the time that I remember looking at it and thinking, this is not minimalism but more of a guide to how to become homeless with style. Basically quit your job, get rid all your stuff beyond a single bag and then support yourself writing ebooks on how to support yourself by writing about how not having stuff gives you the freedom to live off of ebook sales when always on vacation given your location independent lifestyle. Thing was most of the people buying the ebooks were only doing so out of curiosity of how those crazy people were living. In some ways it was the extreme minimalism of trying to fund a more expensive lifestyle by selling extreme minimalism was like a pyramid scheme that soon collapsed under its own weight. It was after that that the “only the best” style minimalism became more popular of only buy really nice and expensive stuff but not as much of it so you will be happier came out that is more sustainable to monetize as you just talk about the few items that you own and why you think they think you should also pick one up too.

      • Sophie

        YES to this! I remember reading a book several years ago about the 100 Thing Challenge – the man who started it counted his ENTIRE library as one thing!! That was the end of that for me. Your comment about the pissing comment is so hilarious and so very true – there have been so many books and articles about having the very fewest things possible. As a person who lives frugally because she has to, having one pair of $200 jeans just ain’t gpnna cut it. I do believe that minimalism (however one interprets that term) can truly make for a happier life, but we all have to acknowledge that everyone’s idea of minimalism will be different. Your blog is one of the very few I still read, because you are honest and down to earth. (Also, THANK YOU for the comment about Marie Kondo and her sales empire – have you heard about the super-expensive storage boxes she is selling? They are just gussied-up shoeboxes. That did it for me.) Keep your wonderful articles coming! They are a breath of fresh air.

        • Annie

          Aww, thank you, Sophie! I’m with you on the super-expensive jeans and whatnot. Did you know that there are “minimalists” out there who recommend that you spend upwards of $50 for a single pair of panties! The panties are made out of Merino wool (if I recall correctly) and are supposed to reduce how often you have to change them to control odor. I read that post a long time ago and went WTF? Seriously, if I get to the point where I don’t want to change my panties on a regular basis, I am hanging it up because yuck!

          I went to Kondo’s sales page once, glanced around, and ended up so enraged that I can’t really remember the crap she had listed. Just…really!?!

          On a personal note, while I am glad that I explored extreme minimalism for the sake of experience, a lot of the stuff they encourage you to do is downright stupid. It will be a cold day in hell before I spend $200 on a single pair of pants, $50 on a pair of special panties, and thousands of dollars on specialized furniture and appliances. I am perfectly content with my hand-me-downs and I’ve no desire to embrace pomposity.

          Thanks for your comment! I am so glad that my little website gives you pleasure and helps a bit.